Brown, J.C., Damjanov, N., Courneya, K.S., Troxel, A.B., Zemel, B.S., Rickels, M.R., . . . Schmitz, K.H. (2018). A randomized dose-response trial of aerobic exercise and health-related quality of life in colon cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 27, 1221–1228.
To determine the dose-response effect of aerobic exercise on health-related quality of life outcomes among colon cancer survivors after treatment completion, including functional status, sleep, fatigue, fear of recurrence, and bowel function.
The intervention was a prescription for home-based aerobic exercise over six months–either low-dose aerobic exercise (150 minutes per week) or high-dose aerobic exercise (300 minutes per week). Each participant received a treadmill and a heart rate monitor. An exercise physiologist provided ongoing in-person, telephone, and email support, individualized to each participant, and monitored adherence to the exercise protocol. Exercise intensity was prescribed at 50%-70% of age-predicted maximum heart rate and gradually increased for each participant to meet their goal.
PHASE OF CARE: Transition phase after active treatment
Randomized controlled trial with three groups: usual care (usual recommendations for activity), low-dose aerobic exercise (150 minutes per week), and high-dose aerobic exercise (300 minutes per week).
Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form (SF-36), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Colorectal (FACT-C), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory (FCRI), Fatigue Symptom Inventory (FSI), North Central Cancer Treatment Group questionnaire (bowel function)
Physical health score in SF-36 improved by 1.2 (d = 0.08) in the low-dose group and 13.1 (d = 0.58) in the high-dose group. FACT-C scores increased by 7.6 (d = 0.49) in the low-dose group and 6.8 (d = 0.58) in the high-dose group. PSQI scores decreased by 0.3 in the low-dose group (d = -0.11) and by 1.1 (d = -0.3) in the high-dose group. PSQI subscales of sleep quality and sleep latency showed improvement. FSI scores increased by 0.8 (d = 0.08) in the low-dose group and decreased by 6 (d = -0.75) in the high-dose group. There were no changes observed in mental health scores of SF-36, FCRI scores, or bowel function scores.
The six-month home-based aerobic exercise intervention for survivors of colon cancer improved health-related outcomes, including physical function, quality of life, sleep quality, and fatigue. Improvements were dose-related, such that a higher dose of aerobic exercise resulted in greater improvement in outcomes.
Moderate intensity aerobic exercise in excess of the recommended 150 minutes per week showed clinically meaningful improvements in health-related outcomes, including physical function, quality of life, sleep quality, and fatigue in survivors of colon cancer who have completed treatment.